By Brandon Sanderson.
Feb. 2016. 423p. Delacorte, $18.99 (9780385743600);
lib. ed., $21.99 (9780375991233); e-book, $10.99
(9780449818411). Gr. 8–11.
In the third and final book of the Reckoners series, Prof has fully embraced his powers,
destroying all around him in order to achieve
Regalia’s final plan: stealing Calamity’s powers
so that he might become the ultimate Epic.
David and his small band of Reckoners are determined to stop him, but only David is sure
he can force Prof to face his fears and recover
his goodness. The only problem? David has yet
to figure out Prof’s fear. To do so, he and the
team must rely on Megan’s growing powers
and the others’ daring and intelligence, risking their own lives and those of the innocent
people around them. It’s a conclusion that
won’t satisfy everyone. While there’s plenty of
violence, as well as other dimensions, new Epics, and high-tech tools, there are also David’s
awful metaphors and similes, and the twists
and turns, especially the final resolution, don’t
always add up. There are elements of the end,
however, that are satisfying, even sweet, and
that ought to make some readers feel that it’s
worthy, even of an Epic. —Frances Bradburn
HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Sanderson’s
number-one best-seller status should ensure
that this series finale will have the requisite
Draw the Line.
By Laurent Linn. Illus. by the
May 2016. 528p. Simon & Schuster/Margaret K.
McElderry, $17.99 (9781481452809). Gr. 9–12.
What to know about Adrian? Well, he is
16; he is gay, though only his two best friends
know it; he is diffident and welcomes his
ability to fade into the background; and he is the creator
of Graphite, a gay superhero
whose illustrated adventures
he posts on an anonymous
website—and which are integrated into the novel’s text
to dramatically good effect.
Meanwhile, Adrian is busy
with adventures of his own, beginning the night
he observes an openly gay boy being attacked
by the star of the football team and attempts a
rescue. Suddenly Adrian is plucked from ob-
scurity, becoming a potential target of the bully
himself. Since, like Graphite, Adrian is about
creating, not killing, he draws the incident and
posts it on his website. But is that enough to
bring the bully to justice? At the same time, our
hero discovers a secret about Lev, the gorgeous
boy who sits behind him in French class. De-
spite a slow start and some early problems with
motivation, Linn’s compelling story doesn’t let
go of the reader. While it’s ingeniously plotted,
its best aspect is its characterization, especially
its multidimensional treatment of Adrian and
his friends; they come alive and drive the narra-
tive to its satisfying conclusion. Readers will be
both impressed and delighted. —Michael Cart
The First Time She Drowned.
By Kerry Kletter.
Mar. 2016. 352p. Philomel, $17.99 (9780399171031).
The first time Cassie drowned, she was six
years old. Desperate for a bit of her mother’s
attention, she leaped into a pool without her
life preserver. Tragically, yet true to form, her
family piled into the car and
almost drove away without her. Cassie continued
drowning in her mother’s
disdainful neglect until, at
15, she was delivered to a
mental institution. Now
Cassie is turning 18, free to
leave the hospital and ready
to take up her mother’s unexpected offer of
college. But Cassie is still drowning, literally
and figuratively, as she suffers through pneumonia and memories of her family’s twisted
dynamics. Why was she forced into a mental
institution? Was she truly out of control, or
was she coldly manipulated by her mother?
Kletter’s excellent debut novel incorporates
the dubious reliability of Cassie’s narration
with the psychological mind games played her
cruelly self-absorbed mother. Cassie is continually on the verge of such heart-wrenching
pain that she does seem to drown, over and
over again, in fury and denial. Readers who
enjoy the suspense of unreliable narrators, as
in Adele Griffin’s Loud Awake and Lost (2013)
or Stephanie Kuehn’s Complicit (2014), will
appreciate this one. —Diane Colson
The Forbidden Wish.
By Jessica Khoury.
Feb. 2016. 352p. Penguin/Razorbill, $17.99
(9781595147677). Gr. 7–10.
In this lushly romantic Arabian Nights retelling, clever thief Aladdin finds a magical lamp
and releases a jinni who has been imprisoned
within for 500 years. Zahra, the jinni, may
look like a 17-year-old girl,
but she is really a powerful, 4,000-year-old shaitan,
able to shape-shift into any
form. Vilified for starting a
500-year war after betraying
her previous master, Queen
Roshana, who attempted
to bring peace between hu-
mans and jinn, Zahra now emerges from the
lamp into a world where magic has become il-
legal. Aladdin wants revenge against the king’s
vizier for executing his parents, who led a re-
bellion against the king’s unjust rule. Zahra
persuades him to pose as a prince from a far-
away land to gain entrance into the palace. But
she has her own reasons for helping Aladdin
exact his revenge, and she is willing to betray
him if it means saving herself. Thus begins an
exciting tale of deception, forbidden love, and
dangerous magic, starring a cheeky thief and
a powerful but vulnerable jinni. Fans of fairy-
tale retellings set in faraway lands and full of
romance, derring-do, and pulse-pounding ac-
tion will fall for this swoon-worthy tale where
“even a thief may have honor, and even a jinni
may have a heart.” —Sharon Rawlins
Girl Last Seen.
By Heather Anastasiu and Anne
Mar. 2016. 272p. Albert Whitman, $16.99
(9780807581407); paper, $9.99 (9780807581414).
Kadence “Kady” Mulligan and Lauren
DeSanto were an online singing sensation
until Lauren’s vocal chords were affected by a
throat infection. Kady was patient with Lauren at first, but when Lauren didn’t heal fast
enough, she became a solo act. That, plus a
fight at school over Kady’s boyfriend, started
disintegrating the bond between the girls.
Now, Kady is missing after a show, and the
evidence points to Lauren, despite her assertions of innocence. When the town and the
media publicly convict her, it’s up to Lauren
to clear her own name and find out what happened to her friend. Relationships between
characters are potent and heartbreaking, set
within scenes brimming with tension. Anastasiu and Brown roll out the plot’s details using
different points of view and a nonlinear plot
development guaranteed to keep readers on
the edge of their seats. Exhilarating and filled
with twists and turns, the mystery lasts until
the final page. —Jeanne Fredriksen
In Real Life.
By Jessica Love.
Mar. 2016. 256p. St. Martin’s/Griffin, $18.99
(9781250064714); e-book (9781466870994). Gr. 9–12.
Hannah and Nick have been online and
phone BFFs for four years without ever meeting in person, a reality that has led to Hannah’s
nickname, Ghost. But rule-follower and control freak Hannah decides to remedy this with
a trip with older sister Grace and in-person
BFF Lo. They are off to Las Vegas to surprise
Nick when his band plays at the House of
Blues for the first time. Predictably their meeting is a disaster, with Hannah discovering a
whole fleet of lies, including the awkward reality of Nick’s girlfriend, Frankie. The glitzy Las
Vegas strip is the backdrop for this road-trip
tale—MGM, Planet Hollywood, the fake Eiffel Tower, and all. Add to this high-interest
backdrop a romantic cat-and-mouse game,
funny dialogue laced with big-sisterly advice
about taking control, and a competitor who
is too nice to hate, and you have a predictable
but sweet story ideal for contemporary teens
whose lives play out in similar computer-and-text-message-related ways. —Frances Bradburn